Saturday, April 30, 2011

Worst Of Me

As I pulled on the sweater Ava bought for me I doubled over in pain. She stepped toward me, putting her right hand on neck, massaging my shoulder.

"Caleb, sit down and take these."

Ava leaned me against the parking ballard and put two pills in my right hand.

"I think I've had enough today. I can barely see straight."

Ava smiled and put her hands on my face, gently.

"They're for nausea. You have sedatives and anxiety medication in your system. You are also suffering from metallic poisoning. Those pills will keep you from throwing up or feeling vertigo."

The way she looked at me alternated from opportunity to passion. Until we got to New York I was going to have to humor her. I took the medicine.

We didn't speak to each other as we hurried through ticket check, security and found our terminal. With ten minutes before the flight boarded, we sat by ourselves in the corner. Ava picked up her small, black handbag and pulled out a twenty dollar bill.

"I've become a coffee addict over the past few years. Did you ever develop a taste for it?"

Sourfaced, I shook my head no.

"Caleb, I sedated you so I could put the counter on your side. The only other way to see how much metal you had coursing through your body was exploratory surgery. We didn't have time for that. I'm trying to help you but this attitude is getting us nowhere. In less than 24 hours, you will either feel a lot better, and have a lead on getting a new heart from Dr, Cluber, or you'll know how long you have to live. I swear to you I will do everything I can to see that either of those options happen. Plus we get to spend time together. Admit it, it's not so bad."

I'd heard that a medical degree gives the person license to be an arrogant jerk.

"Av, I have a wife I am in love with, three daughters who need me, and at least 5 other people in as bad of shape as I am. None of those people are being serviced right now. I'd rather get on a plane with an terrorist cell member than you. I'll take a diet Dr. Pepper."

Ava's dark blue eyes grew black as she furrowed her brows and leaned into my face, just a couple of inches away. I thought she was going to spit in my face.

"I've had it with your snobbiness. I am your only hope. It's time for you to get that! Any other doctor would deny that you had robotic parts inside your body and that you're dying. You're dying Caleb! Stop moping around like a little girl. That's I couldn't stand about you when we dated. You always held me to some impossible standard, then got snotty and mean when I disappointed you. Dr. Cluber and Dr. Bulas gave you life. Now, I'm going to save it. So stop being an ungrateful! I'm getting you a water. Having soda on your stomach with all the meds in you will made you sick."

I slept through the plane flight. I needed some communication distance from Ava. I woke up once and saw her typing on her Iphone. I briefly wondered if the person on the other end of the message was Anson Cluber, Oliver Wicks, Breann, or my wife.

Ava and I were inside the terminal before we spoke.

"Av, I need to hit the restroom, then call home."

She had relaxed and smiled.

"Yeah, me too. I like it when you call me Av. It reminds me of things."

I ignored her and dialed Shane. She didn't answer so I called my oldest daughter.

"Hey are you okay? Mom's freaking out. How sick are you?"

At 15, Juliet was smarter than I was at that age. I didn't even bother to tell her something sugar coated.

"It's my heart sweetie. There's a doctor in New York who can help me. We're on our way to see him. Tell your mom I'll call her in a couple of hours. I love you."

Ava walked over.

"Caleb, Dr. Oliver Wicks is waiting for us at Lenox Hill Hospital. I assume you've checked in with Breann. He has everything set. Hopefully in about an hour or so you and her will be better."

She tried to make small talk during the cab ride. I listened as she whined about her husband. He was in beverage sales to hotels and bars. My cynicism suspected infidelity. I'm the only fool who wouldn't cheat on Ava.

I saw Breann waiting by the Emergency Room entrance as our cab arrived. A pale and shaken Breann spoke first.

"Hey, you made it. You look like hell."

I laughed.

"Yeah, so do you. Hey, so, Breann, this is Dr. Ava Pennington. We used to know each other. Now she just sedates me, kidnaps me, and takes me on adventures."

Breann squeezed her face tightly and reluctantly extended her hand. I chuckled to myself, thinking this was one blonde she wasn't going to be into in any way.

"Hello, Breann. I'm guessing you've had a chance to experience Caleb's sarcastic personality in short time. It's nice to meet you. Hopefully I can help you feel better soon."

We walked into the hospital and Breann leaned into me.

"Wow. I hate her a lot. It's going to take a lot of work for me to keep your wife from having you sleep in the backyard."

I smiled, felt loved by Breann's cattiness, and leaned toward her.

"Ava's a necessary evil. She's the hip bone connected to the Anson Cluber thighbone."

Breann rolled her eyes as Ava opened the door to an large exam room on the basement floor. A small man wearing round glasses and white surgical gloves was laying medical instruments on a stainless steel table.

"Hi Oliver, we're ready."

Breann and I looked at each other then at the the doctors suspiciously.

This is another episode of a story I am writing. The other entries are here:

1) Synchronicity
2) Personality Crisis
3) Serendipity 6
4) Hot Dog Harbinger
5) Goodbye Stranger
6) The House of Irony
7) Connection
8) Dead Man's Party
9) Hope Springs A Turtle
10) Drown
11)  Toyed
12) Fever
13) The Girlfriend Experience
14) Sympathy for the Devil
15) Tomorrow, The Green Grass
16) Possession
17) Numb

Thanks for keeping up with the story.

Today's song is something that has played in my head on and off while writing this story. It was mentioned by a couple of readers as well. Here's Foo Fighter's Best of You...


  1. Great tension between Caleb and Ava... and that Breann is taking on the supportive sibling role.

  2. Good choice with The Foo. Solid, man, solid.

  3. Yeah! For the Foo Fighters feature and the great story line. I am enjoying the history resurfacing and the conflict that is emerging even in the face of progress. It's the guarded hopefulness that let's him tolerate the annoyance. Well played. I want more!

  4. I'm baaaaaack! Like an annoying zit that pops up on prom night.